District Energy

Reducing greenhouse gas emissions with District Energy

District Energy (DE) systems distribute thermal energy, in the form of heated or cooled water, through a network of pipes. DE is used for space heating and cooling, and providing hot water for use in buildings. 

DE systems help to conserve energy through improved efficiency over conventional heating and cooling systems. Also, with the help of DE, we can achieve significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions by using clean renewable energy sources.

DE systems are compatible with a wide range of renewable energy sources. The DE system uses thermal energy to heat water. Then, the water is distributed to customers through a dedicated pipe network — at either a low temperature (15 to 20 degrees Celsius) or a high temperature (above 60 degrees Celsius). The heat from the water is then used directly to heat dwellings or other spaces through heat exchangers. Or, the water is transferred to the local building heating/cooling system through a heat pump.

Establishing District Energy systems across the City

Staff have completed DE studies throughout the City, and are moving quickly to establish DE systems in areas of new development. 

In 2012, Council approved the District Energy System By-law which includes the requirement for all City Centre developments of a certain size to be fully compatible for DE connection. The related Early Adopters Policy will provide time-limited financial assistance to help offset the additional costs.

Most recently, Council approved the Policy on Utility Rate Setting and Regulation which sets out the principles and methodology by which customer rates will be established and regulated by Council. 

The following corporate reports have been approved by council:

  • CR R246 - District Energy System Utility (Surrey City Energy) – Policy on Utility Rate Setting and Regulation
  • CR R123 - City Centre District Energy System By-law and Related Financial Assistance Policy (2012)
  • CR R070 - Financing for a District Energy System in Surrey City Centre - Surrey City Energy (2011)
  • CR R069 - Surrey District Energy System Utility - Governance and Branding (2011)
  • CR R013 - District Energy System - City Centre Area (2011)
  • CR R109 - District Energy Heating System - Surrey City Centre (2010)

District Energy system in the new Civic Centre

Using District Energy at New City Hall

Surrey's New City Hall will incorporate a DE system, based on an underground geo-exchange field, which uses heat pumps to extract the energy stored in the ground. This system will provide energy to heat and cool City Hall and adjacent buildings, and will be able to connect with future DE systems in the area.

Considering sustainability in the District Energy System

By implementing a District Energy System in the City, we're supporting the following parts of our Sustainability Charter:

  • EC8: Energy Security: by promoting the use of low-impact, renewable energy sources and promoting community energy solutions;
  • EN1: Energy Efficiency: by incorporating alternative energy systems, such as geo-exchange and solar heating systems for city facilities;
  • EN2: Waste Reduction: by potentially introducing waste to energy conversion opportunities;
  • EN10: Integrated Community Energy Master Plans: by developing an Integrated Community Energy Master Plan for the City Centre, and by working with private property owners to promote upgrades and retrofits that increase building energy efficiency, such as through the connection to a district energy system;
  • EC8: Increase Energy Security: by the provision of a DE system that is potentially fuelled from a sustainable fuel source such as waste.

Supporting District Energy is part of the City’s effort to reduce GHG emissions in Surrey – track our progress on the Sustainability Dashboard!

Learning more about District Energy

Discover other examples of local district energy utilities and learn more about district energy through

Contact Information

If you have any questions or comments about how Surrey's pursuing District Energy systems, contact Jason Owen at JOwen@surrey.ca